To the Eyes of all the Nations
This article is the first in a series of my point by point response to Dr. Brown’s article entitled “How Rabbi Blumenthal has Missed the Forest for the Trees – Part 3.” https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3
In this article I will be addressing Dr. Brown’s critique of my interpretation which has the kings of the nations confessing in Isaiah 53:1-9.
Here is what I wrote in my article (“Diminishing References and Dr. Brown’s Staggering Mistake – Part 3”):
“Verse 52:15 concludes by describing the speechless shock of the leaders of nation when they see God’s might revealed on behalf of Israel. And 53:1 gives expression and articulation to that shock and consternation. The next several verses continue with the words of shame expressed by those who reviled Israel and persecuted her precisely because Israel is God’s servant.
The nations of the world had been thinking that Israel is suffering because Israel is following a corrupt message. Dr. Brown himself confirms this Biblical truth when he tells us that it is our rejection of Jesus that brought all of our suffering upon us (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, vol. 1, pg. 107). Our rejection of Jesus is rooted in the core of our message, the testimony with which God entrusted us. If our rejection of Jesus brought us suffering according to Dr. Brown, he would have to believe that our message is corrupt.
But now the nations see that Israel’s message is true and they realize that it was their own crooked theology and wicked behavior that caused them to revile the message that Israel was carrying. God had made Israel the target for haters of God throughout history and Israel bore the brunt of the sins of the world.
The fact that it is Israel’s enemies who are shamed by the revelation of God’s strength should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention to Isaiah’s words in the chapters leading up to this passage. In the preceding chapters, it is those who contend with Israel that are shamed with Israel’s exaltation. (41;11, 12, 15, 16; 44;27; 47:1-18; 49:17, 19, 23, 25, 26; 51:7, 8, 22, 23.) Dr. Brown’s interpretation that has Israel expressing shame at the revelation of God’s glory has no basis in the words of Isaiah.”
Here is one paragraph from Dr. Brown’s critique of my interpretation:
“Second, often in the Scriptures the prophets speak of the day when we will be ashamed of our sins. This is hardly a foreign theme, as Rabbi Blumenthal claims. Allow me to quote from Ezekiel 36 at length (here, verses 16-32 in the CSB):”
Did you notice how Dr. Brown put words into my mouth? At what point did I say that the idea that Israel will be ashamed of her sins is a “foreign theme”? I was simply pointing out that in the context of Isaiah, chapters 40 through 52, the prophet spoke much about the ultimate shame of those who contend with Israel. It was Dr. Brown’s own idea to read Isaiah 53 in light of Isaiah chapters 40 through 52 and it was that context that I was referring to.
But the fact that Dr. Brown misrepresented my position makes me feel quite honored. He put me in the company of the prophet Isaiah himself whose words are also misrepresented by Dr. Brown. Only a few paragraphs before the one I quoted Dr. Brown writes:
“Rabbi Blumenthal is wrong on all points. First, as I previously pointed out, there is no reference to the nations or the leaders of the nations in the context preceding 52:13. On what basis do they appear out of the blue, unannounced, and without identification? To call this a hermeneutical stretch would be an understatement. (The passing reference to “kings” in 52:15 hardly introduces them as the
speakers beginning in 53:1.)”
I think that you would agree with me when I say that Isaiah 52:10 precedes 52:13. And 52:10 tells us that God’s arm will be revealed “to the Eyes of All the Nations.” Contrary to Dr. Brown’s dramatic pronouncement, the nations are mentioned only 3 verses before 52:13. The context makes it clear that the revelation of God’s arm will be for the benefit of His servant (53:1) and to the eyes of the nations. It would then follow that those who are described as the beholders of this revelation are the ones expressing their surprise. The shame of Israel’s oppressors and of those who contend with her is mentioned many times in the chapters leading up to Isaiah 53. Check out the following verses; 40:23,24; 41:5,11,12; 42:17; 44:9-20; 45:14,16,20,24; 49:7, 23,26; 51;8,23.
Now let us go back and read Dr. Brown’s words: “there is no reference to the nations or the leaders of the nations in the context preceding 52:13.”
It seems that when Isaiah talks, Dr. Brown does not hear.